When Apple learned from The Ritz-Carlton

by | May 9, 2018 | Experts

Friends often ask me about my experiences and which had the most impact on my career

Friends often ask me about my experiences and which had the most impact on my career. That’s a difficult one to answer. My career has been shaped by the influence of many seasoned professionals, however one always comes to mind and that was when the head of Apple Retail ( Steve Cano…..yep, the other Steve) came to me and wanted me to help him install a service culture, similar to the one Ritz-Carlton had, for all their stores.

‘To give real service you must add something which cannot be bought or measured with money, and that is sincerity and integrity’ – Douglas Adams

The objective of our meeting was to figure out how one can move from selling products, cold machines in a box, to selling service and experiences.

Here are his notes he shared with me afterwards, of that amazing meeting we had , which was followed by various training sessions with their store leaders.

There is no specific order to these notes, however all of them are hospitality/service related and these notes are applicable to both client facing staff as management alike:

  • know the standards , know who we are
  • understand that you were selected to be here, you are important
  • clearly set the expectations
  • we don’t promote problems, we promote performance
  • you have the power to do whatever it takes
  • problems are opportunities
  • opportunities are customers who are more loyal to you
  • never become a function ( like a chair), be a service
  • do things for a purpose
  • defects are cynics who steal from the company
  • one person owns the problem and solves the problem
  • surprise and delight the guests
  • solve problems using low cost and high impact
  • identify defects and eliminate them
  • whatever you visualize you’re going to get( if you paint a dirty shoe you get a dirty shoe but if you paint a beautiful flower, you get a beautiful flower)
  • being the best DOES NOT MEAN YOU ARE GOOD
  • have a common goal
  • join us but don’t work for us
  • we are not servants but we are service professionals
  • never work for money, work for being the best and you make money
  • we know what people want and we should do it zealously
  • never compare yourself to others as it will make you average
  • tell you hopes, dreams and goals and ask everyone to join in
  • respect everyone , from the dishwasher to the president , both ladies and gentlemen
  • have a clear vision – people love to work with this
  • involve people in the planning of the work that affects them
  • anticipate guest needs
  • customers are both internal and external
  • I won the hotel of the year award and had a stack of complaints on my desk the same day
  • processes are only as good as the weakest resource
  • make people live better
  • how do you motivate employees? Make them feel like contributors

His conclusion, he wrote to me, was that the success at the Apple Store will occur when employees are more important than the iPhones or computers. That’s when he got it. That when he started this amazing journey of learning from one company culture and making it his own.

To my friend Steve: well done. You’ve made a huge difference in many lives. Including mine. And how much I enjoy our friendship still today, after so many years. One note at a time.


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